Mountain States Toyota has partnered with the Denver Zoo since 2007. This year, joining forces with the other six dealers in the Denver Toyota Dealers Association, that relationship has grown exponentially-in the form of a $5.4 million pledge toward an all-new $50 million exhibit called the Toyota Elephant Passage.
"This is like something out of 'Jurassic Park,'" says Tim Van Binsbergen, general manager of the Denver-based Mountain States Toyota. "There's nothing like it in the world. You really have to see it to experience it."
The 10-acre exhibit, which opened June 1, is home to Asian Elephants, Malayan tapirs, clouded leopards, greater one-horned rhinos, fishing cats, small-clawed otters and flying foxes. The inhabitants have access to more than two miles of trails and 1 million gallons of water features, making it the largest exhibit in the zoo's 115-year history.
The Toyota Elephant Passage also incorporates interactive activities that, among other things, link the zoo's efforts to preserve species with Toyota's commitment to protect the environment. Case in point: the exhibit is powered by a biomass gasification system that will convert animal waste and visitor-generated trash into energy.
"One thing I remember about going to Disneyland as a child was that Kodak sponsored one exhibit and Monsanto another," says Van Binsbergen. "Hopefully, years from now, kids who visit this exhibit will associate Toyota with happy memories of a place they love."
The Toyota Elephant Passage will certainly get noticed. In 2011, the zoo drew 1.9 million visitors, making it Colorado's top cultural attraction and the nation's fourth most-visited zoo.
"This is one of Denver's most beloved institutions," says Van Binsbergen. "It's an amazing zoo. It's a very good place for us to be."